This morning, I spent an ungodly amount of time unsuccessfully searching YouTube for an old cartoon I once watched in grade school. This particular cinematic diamond explains how early humans specialized in different areas of expertise—for example, blacksmiths, ferriers, butcher, bakers, or candlestick makers—because nothing perfectly oversimplifies a complex social science lesson as well as a low-budget cartoon for nine-year-olds.
In the workplace, you might call a specialized human a subject matter expert or an SME. (If you pronounce it “smee,” I’m going to stick you with the lunch check. I might just dine and ditch you out the bathroom window because that is just embarrassing.)
Why am I yammering about specialization?
One word: porn.
One thing I haven’t talked much about are the fabulous other indie writers I’ve met on Twitter. I credit mostly them and my devoted spambot followers for spreading the word about my books and free Josie Tucker short stories.
And it’s through retweeting some of these other authors, namely the romance and erotica writers—which I’m lumping into one category I’m calling porn, admittedly for clickbait reasons—that I’ve learned about the multitude of sub-genres that exist, the microcosms of specialization in this particular corner of the literary world.
Bears, Stepbrothers, Bigfoot & BDSM
It seems that multi-hyphenates aren’t just for actors-slash-directors in Hollywood any more.
Take a look at this Facebook ad that popped up in my feed. (Incidentally, my feed will never be the same now that I’ve clicked on it.) This series is for fans of: 1.) Gritty romance 2.) Brothers 3.) Blue-collar guys 4.) Billionaires and 5.) Alpha males. I might even be missing one or more sub-genres.
It’s no longer simply the hard or soft option. You can choose werebears, vampires, angels, dragons, beavers (of both kinds), and any number of paranormal main-character heroes. Yes, including Bigfoot—because no topic is taboo. In fact, taboo is its own category, as are step-brother, incestuous, violence, pain, bondage… Are you getting the picture? Because it’s painted in fifty shades of grey.
In case I wasn’t clear in all this dirty, dirty smut: THESE ARE SEARCHABLE CATEGORIES on Amazon and other sites.
(No, I’m not linking to any of these books, but now you know they exist.)
Why am I even talking about this?
Dare I say it? Porn writers have revolutionized literary specialization.
Besides the rippling abs and biceps on the book covers and having a ready-made topic for a dissertation if I ever go back to grad school, I’m interested in this concept of specialization for one very particular reason:
How I categorize my own books when I’m marketing them
Frankly, I had no clue what I was doing when Amazon assigned categories to the first Josie Tucker mystery, The Bride Wore Dead. Here’s a screen grab from when I was running a promo and had an amazingly inflated ranking on this book.
My point in parading out this graphic, other than to toot my own horn, is to show you that Josie Tucker mysteries are ranked in two vastly different categories: General Humor and Culinary Mystery.
Fifteen years ago, I didn’t even know Culinary Mysteries were a thing. Now I’m banking on this sub-genre to help me get my books in front of more readers—specifically, readers who are searching for Culinary Mysteries. They know what they want to read, and because I’ve categorized my books this way, they’re going to find them. Which is a very good thing.
Thank you, weird, specialized porn writers. I salute you.
So if you’re an author, it’s important not only to know which categories are a good fit for your books, but also find a category that isn’t over-saturated. That is, if you’re in the market for more readers.
And if you’re a reader, right this way…
I learn something new on social media every day. Feel free to stop in and say hi.